The Optimal Length of the Working Day: Evidence from Hawthorne Experiments.

Peter Dolton, Christopher Howorth, Mohamed Abouaziza

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


What is the optimal length of the working day? We estimate the causal impact of daily hours worked on marginal productivity using data from the famous Hawthorne experiment in industrial organization which exogenously varies the length of the working day and tracks workers productivity. Building on a theoretical model we show that the productivity-working hours’ relationship is linear below a specific hour’s threshold as productivity increases proportionally with working hours; above the threshold, it is quadratic as productivity increases at a decreasing rate with working hours. We find that productivity is maximized at between 8 and 8.6 daily working hours depending on the production process.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages49
Publication statusUnpublished - Mar 2016
EventRoyal Economic Society Conference - Sussex University
Duration: 21 Mar 201623 Mar 2016


ConferenceRoyal Economic Society Conference

Cite this